Date: 15 September 2006
Originally published in: Het Parool (Netherlands)
Written by: Peter van Brummelen
In the eighties she was England’s most successful pop singer. Now Kim Wilde is a mother and an expert on the field of gardening. After a long musical silence she released her album ‘Never say never’.
In the rich arsenal of anecdotes from Jip Golsteijn, the legendary deceased pop journalist from ‘De Telegraaf’, there’s also a story about Kim Wilde, the singer of hits such as ‘Kids in America’ and ‘Cambodia’. A short version. After an interview the journalist and the singer went out for drinks. After that they ended up at the family Golsteijn’s home, where Kim Wilde was laid to sleep in the room of Golsteijn’s teenage daughter.
The daughter was an enormous fan of Wilde: the walls of the room were filled with posters of the English popstar. The climax of the tale was Golsteijn’s description of his daughter’s surprise when she woke up and saw her big idol sleeping it off in her room.
Kim Wilde has to laugh at the story, but can’t remember it at all. “Which doesn’t mean it never happened. I’ve done stranger things in the eighties. No, it has nothing to do with the booze, although I drank everything from minibars at the time. I have always had a bad memory. And since I have children, it’s gotten worse, they are very bad for your memory.”
We help her ourt: Kim Wilde was England’s most successful pop singer in the early eighties. She sold ten million albums and double as much singles.
Her striking voice, sounding like she always had a blocked nose, played a big part in that success, but not totally unimportant were her looks. Kim Wilde looked like the English version of the young Brigitte Bardot. Dutch boys who weren’t into her music (a poppy version of new wave), never minded when she was a guest in Toppop.
‘Never say never’ is the album that she released after a long musical silence. The title shouldn’t be seen as a reference to Jame Bond, she says. “The movie ‘Never say never’ I never even saw. I am not into James Bond, it’s boy’s stuff. I called my new album ‘Never say never’ because I found out through the years that you should never say never. I never thought I would have a comeback aged 45. Earlier on I never expected to get married and have two children. And even less expected was me becoming a gardener.”
Here in Holland it may seem like she pulled back in silence after the eighties, in England she was on television regularly – as a presenter of English programmes about gardening, amongst which ‘Better Gardens’. She also wrote two gardening books: after ‘Gardening with children’ she recently released ‘The first time gardener’. The life for gardening bloomed when she return to the village where she grew up in the rustic Hertfordshire after many years in London.
It’s hard to imagine a woman like Kim Wilde in an overall, but she says that nothing gives her as much peace as putting her fingers in the dirt. For now she hasn’t got much time for it because the music takes first place again. The album ‘Never say never’, partly filled with new versions of her old hits, was produced by Uwe Fahrenkrog-Petersen, famous for his work with German singer Nena.
Previously Kim Wilde worked with her own family: her father Marty and brother Ricky were producer and songwriter and the big men behind her success. “It was good to work with someone new. Uwe push other buttons, literally and figuratively speaking, than my brother.”
And the brother didn’t feel left out?
“Certainly not. At the moment he is busy shaping the singing career of his 17 year old daughter Charlotte. She has a voice which resembles mine a bit. According to my brother she is going to be a star”.
Which would continue a good family tradition: long before Kim Wilde’s success in the eighties her father Marty was one of Englands first rock’n’roll stars in the fifties. Kim Wilde wasn’t aware of her father’s past as a teenage star when she was a child. Her own children, who are six and eight years old, are not aware of their mother’s previous success either.
“We have no radio at home and rarely watch tv, and I would never play my own music, so they are not exposed to it. They know I was famous, but that ends it. They saw me perform live for the first time recently. The teachers at their school convinced me to sing ‘Kids in America’ during a party. I was accompanied by the school orchestra. It sounded fantastic.”
At her own request the school orchestra also played ‘Enter Sandman’ and ‘Nothing else matters’ by Metallica with her.
“And that sound fantastic as well. I love Metallica and Guns ‘n’ Roses too. I never liked their music before. I preferred black music, Mary J. Blige and others.”
“My son, who is a real rocker at eight, has brought out my inner rock chick.”